Personal Compuer Games

Adventure World

Publisher: Martech
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Personal Computer Games #10

Forget These Treasures!

Some of the games that have made their way to the White Wizard's Fortress of Solitude this month are pure rubbish. First into the bin was The Five Treasures Of Ryzar from Space Age Software.

This "original and exciting adventure" is about as original and exciting as a spell for making lizards burp. "You are not limited to single-letter commands" boasts the press release. Big deal. You are, however, limited to a very small vocabulary and an extremely repetitive scenario.

The display shows a line drawing of the room you happen to be in. You can choose between "Olde Englishe Text" and the normal Spectrum character set; and a brief message tells you the number of the room and which direction you're facing in.

The direction is really pretty pointless since the program doesn't understand words like North, South, etc. You have to type in "GO FORWARD" or "GO BACKWARDS" to move about. Most of the time you type in instructions and you are told that "You can't do that here" without it being at all clear why you can't.

Every time you enter a new room, another ugly line drawing, featuring a number of blank walls and a door or two, is flashed onto the screen. Sometimes you appear to be in a new room but the display tells you that you are still in the old one. Very confusing.

Your task is to collect the five treasures of Ryzar from the five different levels below the city, but however exciting the objective may sound, the game, I assure you, isn't.


I was getting rather depressed by this stage, but the next offering, Odyssey Of Hope, from Martech, cheered me up considerably.

Martech's game looks different from the start. The instructions are printed on the pages of a book that turn as you read them. The adventure itself has scrolling text with attractive graphics at the top of the page that draw instantly and are among the best adventure graphics I've seen on the Sinclair machine.

You have to travel around the classical world of ancient Greece hunting for Hope, which has been stolen and restore it to Mount Olympus.

Compared to The Five Treasures Of Ryzar, Odyssey Of Hope seemed like game of the year. In fact, it's a rather average adventure that is perked up with some surprising additions. First, the sound effects.

Standing in the temple, you hear a hissing sound between inputs. Hang about too long and you get bitten by a snake. After that, in another location, you can be sure I didn't stick around to find out what the buzzing sound was. Being stung to death by savage bees isn't my idea of a Greek holiday.

The responses are a bit slow in Martech's game, but otherwise I found it an attractive, if rather unexciting, game. One thing that annoyed me was the response to my entry "USE LOOM". "What?!" the program replied, "That's woman's work!" The assumption that only men, boys and wizards play adventures is not only incorrect but also I think a little insulting to half the population.

Wild West

However, it's very much a man's world in West, a new game for the C64 from another company jumping on the adventure bandwagon, Talent Software.

This is a rather unusual game, a text-adventure but with a real-time element which can make play rather bizarre, to say the least.

The setting is an old, decaying town in the Wild West, and droves of gun-toting bank robbers are on the loose. When you encounter one you have to type in 'SHOOT' at top speed or you're liable to bite the dust with a bullet in your back.

Since we wizards have always preferred spells to touch-typing, this proved a most demanding ordeal.

Even stranger is that when you die you are simply returned to the starting point minus all your possessions, including your gun. So you must immediately hare back to the site of your death where you will discover "a familiar corpse" from which you can recoup all your property.

Unfortunately, there are some locations you can't return to safely - should you die in one of these you might as well reload the tape (takes 15 minutes) although you do have the option of loading a previously saved position.

Since you have 30 lives, it's not long before the locations you visit are populated by "familiar corpses" of you and your trusty steed and, as the text keeps telling you, "the stench is awful".

Another unusual feature is that, should you happen to pick up a pack of cards, you're likely to be challenged to a game of Pontoon, the rules of which are explained in the cassette inaly. You can keep playing as long as you like and, if you lose, you'd better have some money with you or guess what happens? Mind you, if you win, the robbers don't seem to take that very kindly either.

Other features which won't appeal to the purist are the rather bald nature of the descriptions and the fact that many common words such as "Wait" and, more ominously, "Help" are not understood. But the instructions claim a vocabulary of up to 200 words, and there seems to be quite a large number of locations.

The aim in West is to track down the bankrobbers' loot and escape from the town in one piece. Could appeal to anyone fed up with battling dragons, trolls and serpents - but look out for the rattlesnake!

Dorcas Software are a company I haven't stumbled across before. Their game Oracle's Cave for the C64 is one of those 'hit points and heal wounds' programs where you go for a wild romp through a maze of caves, attacking ogres and cackling with glee at the sight of gold.

Dorcas' game is different because of the quality of the graphics. There's a display of the cave you find yourself in at the top of the screen. Below is a status display and a map of the caves which is added to as you explore them.

In each location you are presented with different choices depending on what you're up against. Commands are entered with single key-presses and the results are then displayed graphically on the screen. Move straight ahead and a little figure walks hesitantly along the tunnel. He can also climb up and down ladders, fight with assorted monsters and, of course, collect treasure, food, potions, and all the other curiosities to be found in your local cave complex.

The White Wizard is not, as I've said before, a great fan of this type of game. I prefer to have the opportunities (and even, sometimes, the frustrations) of proper text input.

I also prefer to have something more to do than just go around collecting treasure and fighting. However, the graphics did add to the atmosphere and I enjoyed it more than most programs of this type.

Pot Of Gold

The troubles at Dragon came at a particularly unfortunate time for adventure players because Dragon Data have just produced two excellent games for the Welsh machine.

Shenanigans and Sea Quest are among the first games for the Dragon with a decent text/graphics display. You get a picture in the top half of the screen and a scrolling text-window below, with both upper and lower case letter.

The graphics are great - and in Sea Quest they even boast the occasional animated effect as waves cross the screen, or a waterfall plunges down onto a beach.

Both games have you searching for treasure. Shenanigans has, as the name may suggest to you, a distinctly Irish flavour. Searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you'll have to solve a number of tricky puzzles with the aid of a decent vocabulary and an excellently-presented program.

What I liked about both these games was the logic behind them. In Shenanigans one of the first puzzles concerns a mailbox. How do you open your mailbox in the apartment building unless you know which mail box is yours? The White Wizard struggled with this for quite some time - and eventually gave up in despair.

The solution (given to me by a very helpful man at Dragon Data) was so blindingly obvious and so logical that I couldn't help laughing. What was I, I hear you cry? Check out next month's tips grid to find out. Meanwhile, rush out and buy the game.

Sea Quest is every bit as enjoyable as Shenanigans. Instead of leprechauns you'll be rubbing shoulders with mermaids and sharks, buying goods on credit, and finally humping your hard-earned treasure back to a cave on the beach. Definitely a game to dive for.

Both programs are two word input only, but this never seems to be a limitation and each game is quite clear about telling you what it understands and what it doesn't. These two adventures are easily comparable to games on the Spectrum in presentation and content. I only hope that, despite Dragon's troubles, they will continue to be readily available in the shops.

Ah well, as Mark Ormiston pointed out in a letter last month, Dragons are a persecuted minority. And, on that note, fellow adventurers, I take my leave and wish you well.